How to Organize School Papers and Other Mementos

Need help in knowing how to choose which school papers and other childhood mementos to keep and which ones to toss? Check out this helpful article with great tips and simple storage solutions!Before I get started on this week’s post I want to take a minute to thank you for your responses to my article about why I unfriended everyone on Facebook. The e-mails, text messages, phone calls, comments, and “Likes” I received were incredibly encouraging after pouring my heart and struggles out on my blog.

Now, for this week’s organizational tips and challenge – I’ll start by answering two more reader questions.

My first question was about saving children’s special mementos:

What do you do with all of your children’s mementos? How do you choose what to keep versus what to throw away? – Misty

Great question, Misty! The short answer is this: I get rid of just about everything my kids are done with 🙂 My reason? If they don’t use it we don’t need to keep it.

Now here’s my longer answer: I do keep a few of my kids’ most special items. Beautiful crib bedding that my grandmother purchased? It’s in a tote. First Christmas dresses? Saved. Outfits they wore home from the hospital? I’ve kept those too!

Baby Mementos How to Decide Which Ones to Keep

Crib bedding I saved.

Right now we have one tote that holds both girls’ items. I suspect that as they grow older (and grow out of more toys and books they’ve loved for years), they’ll each have their own tote. I have already set a limit in my mind though: A maximum of two totes per girl.

This pre-chosen limit forces me to make solid decisions. An item may be cute, or fun, or whatever, but it has to be really special in order to make it into the totes.

That way my kids will have a few special things they can share with their own children one day, but they won’t be burdened with boxes and boxes full of stuff to go through.

I’m a firm believer that the less stuff we have, the more special each item becomes. Plus, by passing items along, others can be blessed with things we’re finished with.

My next question was along the same lines:

“Now that [my child] has started school, I have enough papers from the last six months to fill a tote. I can’t get rid of them! I’m good about letting clothes and other things go, but I’m attached to her school papers. Please write a post for me!” – Crystal

Crystal, I completely understand! School papers happens to be a weakness of mine as well. Here’s what we currently do:

I have a three ring binder for each child for each year. We put sheet protectors in the binders and just slip papers into the sheet protectors. For pre-school and kindergarten, we just put the papers in chronological order. Starting in first grade, we divide things up by subject.

Easy Ways to Organize School Papers

My Binder System

Since we already have a full shelf of binders and many years of school left, I’ve realized that I keep too many papers. So, I’m currently thinking about condensing our current notebooks to just one for lower elementary (pre-school – 2nd grade) and another binder for upper elementary (3rd – 5th grade).

Other ways to organize school papers:

  • Some people utilize the binder method, except they hole-punch the papers instead of using sheet protectors.
  • Other people use a file in their file-cabinets for each child.
  • A cousin of mine keeps an unused pizza box for each child every year. They put art projects, pen-pal letters, etc. into the box. She labels the pizza boxes with their names and the year.
  • One of my friends uses a three-ring binder throughout the year for each of her kids, then at the end of the year, she lets her kids choose one or two special papers and everything else gets tossed. This way, they honor the work as it’s being completed, but they’re also able to start fresh every year.

(Note: If you need more help with organizing kid’s items, you can go here to read about cleaning out kid’s toys or you can read this article for tips about how to organize kid’s clothing.)

What tip do you have for organizing school papers and other childhood mementos?

{Image courtesy of Witthaya Phonsawat /}

{Linking up at All Kinds of Things}


  1. My daughter is now 11. When she was younger and bringing home all the ‘cute colored pictures’, I kept them all until I realized what a mess I had. I finally took to scanning the ones I had kept into my computer into a folder that is labeled with her name. I saw this on a site a few years ago and they suggested using those pictures as the screen saver that scrolls. I have another box I have to go through soon to organize what I’ve accumulated since the first scan.

    • Jeannie, that’s a great idea! I especially love the idea to use the artwork as the screensavers. Thanks for sharing!

    • We do this too. I either scan all those special projects from school or church or take pictures of them and then toss them after an appropriate amount of time (after the holiday or a few weeks on our art clothesline). Then I put images of a few special ones in their scrapbooks and the rest are digital. So much easier. It’s also helping my pack-rat 8yo let go too. If she knows she can see it later, she has a much easier time throwing old papers away.

  2. I totally agree with you, choosing what to keep and what to part with is tough. I’m trying to do that now with photos as I have 3 apple boxes of photos plus a dozen albums to go through! One more option that can free up “tote” space would be to scan those report cards, papers and artwork then store them in a digital archive online. That way they are easily accessible and there’s no risk of loss if something happens to the original (think fire, flood, tornado or even mice ewww).

    Plus I have access while allowing my kids immediate access so I’m not parting with my memories prematurely. My kids are all grown so they aren’t often in my house to go through their boxes plus I don’t think they are really interested yet. But as the hubs and I gear up for retirement and possible downsizing, I really have to lessen our memory stores. Even more so since there are 7 kids between us!

    Thanks again for a great article.

  3. Being a homeschooling Mama with millions of worksheets and a photographer, I decided to take digital images of special artwork, drawings and projects and have them printed in a photobook marked by grade. Kindergarten, 1st Grade, etc. Then, instead of throwing out the real drawings, we use them as cards to send to Grandparents, pen pals and friends, our own little version of recycling.

  4. Thanks for your great tips! I love how the binder system allows you to see the artwork more clearly as you go through it… instead of dragging it all out of a file. I am putting together a roundup of my favourite ideas for organizing children’s school work and this is definitely one of them!

  5. My son is in PreK and brings home paintings and drawings almost daily. I decided to use them as greeting cards to family and friends. Some just need to be cut down. 🙂


  1. […] Even if you’re organizing a storage closet that isn’t for holidays, keep in mind that if an item has been buried under clutter for two years and you haven’t needed it yet, you probably won’t ever need it. Put it in a bag for donations and let someone else have it. Don’t over think this part – work fast and just keep moving. (If you need tips on knowing which of your children’s mementos to keep and which to toss, read this article.) […]

  2. […] Notes: Check out other creative ideas of mementos to save at […]

  3. […] How to organize school papers and other childhood mementos. […]

  4. […] How to Organize School Papers and Other Mementos by Davonne at Davonne Parks […]

  5. […] I like how easy it is to see the artwork and projects with this organized binder system – and she also gives some great tips about what to keep and what to purge at Davonne Parks. […]

  6. […] If you just can’t bear to part with most of their work (at least, not yet), consider this idea from Davonne Parks. She keeps binders for each school year, with divider tabs for different subjects. There are also a […]

Speak Your Mind